PIQUA — The Piqua Rotary Club, in partnership with the international relief organization Food for the Poor Inc., will sponsor “A Home for the Holidays” fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Edison State Community College.
The event will begin with a Caribbean-inspired reception including heavy appetizers and beverages in the Edison atrium area. This will be followed by the program at 7 p.m. in the college theater.
World Services Committee Chair Sharon Semanie said the event is in response to an earthquake which ravaged Haiti in 2010, killing 250,000 residents and leaving 1.3 million homeless. Nearly 50,000 Haitians remain in tent cities six years later. Proceeds will be earmarked for redevelopment efforts.
“This is an uplifting opportunity to help provide a concrete block home for the poorest of the poor — Haitian families — who’ve been forced to live in tents with as many as 10-12 family members, walk several miles for clean drinking water and depend upon the generosity of outsiders for even a daily bowl of rice,” Semanie explained.
Rotarians were inspired to aid the Haitian community at the request of Ben Scott Sr. of Piqua, a successful retired businessman, who has worked in tandem with Food for the Poor Inc. since the earthquake decimated Haiti.
“Ben and his wife, Louise, have been instrumental in helping to rebuild Haiti since the earthquake,” Semanie noted. “Together with neighbors in Boca Grande, Fla., they have painstakingly worked endless hours to generate enough funds to build 227 concrete homes, community centers, and health centers as well as provide farm animals for food sustenance throughout Haiti.
“The Scott family has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others both in our community and Haiti. We are hopeful individuals will respond to Ben’s request to financially support this initiative.”
Scott, who recently traveled to Haiti to videotape redevelopment efforts, will serve as emcee of the Dec. 1 fundraiser and provide a visual overview to attendees. When asked why he got involved in aiding the crisis, Scott stated, “I got involved in Haiti because many of the Haitian people are living in such dreadful conditions that no human being should have to endure.”
He will be joined by Angel Aloma, executive director of Food for the Poor. Aloma oversees all fundraising and communication initiatives for the international relief organization. Described as a “communicator par excellence,” he has become an enthusiastic spokesperson for Food for the Poor and is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Creole and Patois. During his 21 years as a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Aloma started a program to feed the homeless in Broward County and led numerous mission trips with his students to the Caribbean countries.
Aloma is especially attuned to the plight of the poor in our hemisphere and frequently visits those areas accompanied by donors, such as Scott, and community and church leaders.
A frequent speaker focusing on the topic of poverty and related issues such as justice and peace, Aloma was born in Santiago, Cuba, and reared primarily in Jamaica. He continued his Jesuit education at Campion College and St. Georges College in Kingston, He is a graduate of the University of Windsor in Canada and received his master of science degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Tickets for “A Home for the Holidays” are $50 per person and can be purchased from Piqua Rotary Club members, or at the Readmore’s Hallmark Store or Harvest Pantry LLC Bulk Foods, both located on North Main Street, Piqua. For sponsorship opportunities, businesses, churches or non-profit organizations can contact Semanie at (937) 615-9335 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“As an incentive for every dollar raised, we will receive matching gifts from an anonymous source,” Semanie said. “We encourage everyone in the Piqua area to support this major event. This is an ideal opportunity for families to make a holiday donation and help us, The Piqua Rotary Club, rebuild Haiti — one block at a time.”